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What Did John Mulaney Go to Rehab For? Inside His ‘Star-Studded’ Intervention

12 famous friends saved his life.
John Mulaney
Courtesy of Netflix

His Netflix comedy special Baby J marks his return to the spotlight after battling substance abuse, and John Mulaney’s time in rehab is something he’s willing to talk about—in unapologetic detail.

The SNL alum has previously revealed he began drinking at the age of 13 for “attention” and as a means of becoming more confident. “I was really outgoing, and then at 12, I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. And then I was drinking, and I was hilarious again.” He also told Esquire magazine in an October 2019 cover story that alcohol led him to experiment with prescription and illicit substances. “I wasn’t a good athlete, so maybe it was some young male thing of ‘This is the physical feat I can do. Three Vicodin and a tequila and I’m still standing,’” he said. “Who’s the athlete now?”

After years of excessive drinking, blacking out, and even consuming perfume, he went on a bender in 2005 which was a tipping point for his addiction. He told Esquire, “I went on a bender that weekend that was just, like, fading in and out of a movie … It was just crazy … I was like, ‘You’re f–king out of control,’” he said. “And I thought to myself, ‘I don’t like this guy anymore. I’m not rooting for him.’” He didn’t go to rehab then, he quit cold turkey. It wasn’t until 2020 that his addictive personality would come to a head again.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support. 

What did John Mulaney go to rehab for?

John Mulaney went to rehab for addiction to various illicit and prescription substances. During his Baby J comedy special, he detailed exactly what he was using at the time: cocaine, Adderall (used to treat ADHD), Xanax (anxiety medication), Klonopin (used to treat panic attacks and seizures) and Percocet (painkillers).

John Mulaney
John Mulaney: Baby J. Image: Marcus Russell Price/Netflix

The intervention, for which he arrived two hours late he’d come from his drug dealer’s house and a haircut at 30 Rock where he used to film Saturday Night Live, came on December 18, 2020. At the time, he recalled he “was loose in New York City, not doing well. Feral,” Mulaney described in his Netflix special, adding that he’d been invited to a friend’s place for dinner, but “when I got there, it was a trick. There was no dinner, it was an intervention for me. When I walked into my intervention, I knew immediately it was an intervention.”

12 friends total—six in person in New York in the middle of the COVID pandemic and six on Zoom from Los Angeles—begged him to go to rehab. “Now, I don’t mean to be weird, but it was a star-studded intervention,” he said during his comedy special. “As mad as I was, when I walked in there, I was like, ‘This is a good lineup.’ … All comedians, yet no one said a funny thing the entire night. Before I got there, they promised each other that they wouldn’t do bits.”

In the closing of the special, the first names of everyone who attended the intervention were listed: Fred, Berk, Mike, Bill, Erica, Nick, Natasha, Joe, Cara, David, Seth, Kevin, and Marika with a “you saved my life” beneath it. Seth is Seth Meyers, with whom Mulaney had worked at SNL, Nick is his longtime Big Mouth collaborator Nick Kroll, and Fred, another SNL alum Fred Armisen. In previous comedy tours, Mulaney identified Bill as Bill Hader and Natasha Lyonne as also members of the group, while Marika is likely Marika Sawyer, a writer on SNL, Mike is likely Mike Birbiglia, a comedian with whom Mulaney went to college, executive producers David Diner and Cara Masline are also possible members of the group.

Mulaney was admitted to a facility in Pennsylvania at 4 am but he joked that he “had other plans that weekend” because he was carrying “a full baggie of 30mg Adderall, a full baggie of Xanax, three grams of cocaine, and two thousand dollars in cash.”

He would spend 60 days there while his marriage to Anna Marie Tendler broke down very publicly. A Reddit user called meetmeforkisses wrote that Mulaney had approached her in 2019. “He was definitely drinking and definitely never mentioned a wife. Did not hesitate to give me his number to meet outside of the club. He was always respectful to me so I could never call him a predator or anything, but I felt so awful when I found out he was married.”

Tendler also went into rehab and therapy at around the same time as her estranged husband, but for emotional reasons; she’d suffered significantly because of his alleged infidelity with actress Olivia Munn. A source told Page Six that “Anna Marie was in rehab at Silver Hill for [emotional]… and eating disorders. … It is clear she suffered during their marriage.”

In September 2021 on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Mulaney thanked the host for helping stage his intervention. “Sitting here tonight, I’m so grateful to you and to everyone there for saving my life. That night, I was not grateful,” he said. “You guys saved me from drugs, and Olivia [Munn] and this baby have helped save me from myself in this early journey out of recovery. I don’t have a joke for that. I’m really grateful to you, buddy.”

Baby J is available to stream on Netflix.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support. 

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